Apologetics to the Glory of God

Wherein Bruce Gerencser Combats The Vast Evangelical Conspiracy

Well according to Whipps, I am absolutely, totally wrong about, well, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I will leave it to the readers of this blog to determine the veracity and value of his screed. One thing I have learned is not to get into … wars with people like Whipps. I answered him with two blog posts and only did so because he has commenting shut off on his “teaching” posts. He will tire of me eventually and move on to some other “important” battle. He will certainly think himself vindicated and I am quite happy to allow him to think so.

Here’s his last post, https://choosinghats.org/2014/07/the-haberdashery-of-bruce-gerencser/ This post is also a a “teaching” post. He makes it clear that he and his merry band of readers ” have far better uses for our time than dealing with their comments.”

He goes to great lengths to justify his statements about reading this blog, and how much of it he read when. It’s his story, so he can tell it however he wants. What I know on my end is that the page view, hardware, and screen resolution logs for his IP address tell a different story than what he presents on his blog.

There is only one line out of his last post I want to leave readers with “I can, if I am in a hurry, read at well over 2,000 wpm”

This is the Evangelical … game. I questioned the …and he comes back and says that …. he could read an 80,000 word book in 40 minutes. Joshua Whipps is indeed the John Holmes of Evangelicalism.[1]

That’s all from me on this subject.

He leaves the preceding comment on two different posts of his. I suppose this is really important.  Bruce has his story, it seems.  He’s sticking to it.  I don’t know why he seems so utterly convinced that I am lying.  Does he really suppose that his metrics track everything? Once upon a time, I thought so, too.  Then I looked at the difference between my analytics take and the raw data from my host.  The latter had more data, but it also had different data.  Neither actually captured all of the data.  It’s Bruce’s story, he can tell it how he wants,right?  The problem is, even the story he is telling isn’t telling everything.  Bruce seems to think that he knows what I was doing with his site.  I would beg to differ.  He can also make all of the ridiculous charges and remarks about comments that he likes.  They’re staying off.

In his own story, he notes this: “Now it is possible that RazorsKiss saved these pages or had each page open in a separate browser tab or window and went back to them later and read them carefully, but I doubt it.”

Not only is it possible, that is what I did.  Notice in his own post, the pattern of link clicks.  I clicked through pages linked in several posts he thinks are important.  I also had my tablet open, with the links from his “My Journey.”  I didn’t plan to link any of them in the initial post, but I already had them up, since I had been listening to them again (I had listened to other posts previously, as well as those, and returned to them) on the last leg of that day’s ride through Michigan.  What I was interested in dealing with were the things I detailed in the post.  He just isn’t interested, however, and he chooses to believe that I was lying.  Again, I don’t know why he is so convinced, specifically.  Perhaps he truly does believe his stats programs give all the information.  Perhaps Bruce is just so bigoted toward Christians that he simply can’t imagine that one of them could read his posts.  Perhaps he is simply presuppositionally committed to the general inability of any religious person to do anything he deems worthy – despite challenging them to do just that.  I read the posts he asked me to read.  I still think he doesn’t accurately object to what I believe.  Why? I read what he says we believe.  He can accurately identify it on a superficial level – but when he objects to any portion of it, he suddenly forgets what he just said we believe, and objects to a caricature of that belief.  He switches between an attempted internal critique and an external critique in the blink of an eye, and often confuses what he thinks about a specific doctrine with what the doctrine actually is – constantly.   He is choosing hats.  He is just choosing them so fast that it is hard to follow.  I don’t think he realizes he is doing it, either.  When you don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about your own philosophical precommitments, there is a tendency to overlook your mistakes in that regard.  Imagine, if you will, seeing the same scene as a child and as an adult.  You are seeing the exact same thing, but the passage of time, perspective, and experience has intervened, shaded your recollections, and rendered the scene nearly foreign to you.  You recall certain aspects, but through a glass darkly.

As to the technical issues regarding my “listening” to his site: Here is how you do it.  First, you need either a full site feed, or a tool that will format the entire website’s content into RSS.  Bruce’s site only goes back a certain way on the main fee, as does CH’s.  There are a variety of tools to do so, but due to their possibility for abuse (and sometimes because they ARE abused), they are somewhat difficult to find on a google search.  I use a particular aggregator tool that I have modified to aggregate an otherwise limited feed by sitemap, and to create a sitemap, if necessary.  There are also tools that can backup an entire site. I use http://www.httrack.com/.  Then, you format it – whatever the “it” is, depending on the method you need to use, to an opml file, and export it.  My podcast/rss app on my tablet or phone can import opml, and my chosen text-to-speech engine takes it from there.  Alternatively, you can use Calibre, and convert it to an ebook.  In any case, I can easily tether either my tablet or laptop to my phone, and let them churn through the download, then the export/import while I drive.  As it happens,  Bruce’s blog isn’t especially large, so it chugged right through it fairly quickly, considering I downloaded it via 3g, while driving, and bouncing tower to tower.  The program I use strips out the images, so when you’re down to the text, it goes fairly quickly.

The IP he tracks, as I hinted at in my last post, was that of a truck stop in Michigan.  The program I use utilizes spiders, similar to a search engine.  I have no doubt that it dropped, then resumed connection multiple times, given how many towers I bounced through on that trip.  Further, as far as I can tell, I was in 3 different _states_ during that process.  Now, precisely how, I wonder, would Bruce have tracked all that?  Given the esoterica of the method, he had no way of knowing all that.  That’s precisely my point, however.  I left it at “I set my tablet to download your entire RSS feed.”  I didn’t include all of the above, because it really wasn’t especially important – I mean, as long as we’re being rational.  Since Bruce insists I’m lying… What it was actually doing, was taking an opml import of the full test of his all of posts.  That opml file was the result of an aggregation of his feed via the sitemap code I use, then generate an opml file from.  So, I’m fairly decent at aggregation, import, and the like – and have a bunch of RSS aggregation tools installed locally, as a result – including one I used to run an apologetics blog aggregator, back in the day. Couple that with my frequent periods of “enforced offline” time, and I’ve become fairly ingenious with ways to ensure I have ways to access things I need to read.

Bruce also seems to think that I made up the reading speed claim specifically for him.  Feel free to peruse this link. Look at the date. I had to revamp the site in the first half of 2010 – the claim for my reading speed is there in that snapshot.  Unless Bruce thinks I can hack archive.org, I clearly thought I could read that fast back then.  Again, however, as I will show below, and as I stated in my previous post – it is irrelevant to the actual state of affairs.  While I could have easily read them all that quickly, I not only did not, but did not need to.  First, I had heard them all already, and then some, via my tablet’s text to speech capability.  Second, the “browsing history” he showed has nothing to do with how long it took to actually read them.  Like many folks, I click open links in new tabs as I come across them.  For some reason, people still seem to think that you “navigate off” a page when you click a link.  I don’t.  I have my browser set to open in a new tab, automatically.   Once it’s open, it stays open, unless you close it.  He has no way of knowing what I do with a tab once I open a link.  I could _still_ have it up, for all he knows.  I still have the same tab for the LBCF open, come to think of it!  I also have the same twitter and facebook tabs open, too.  What I know is that on my end, Bruce is talking confidently about things he has no way of knowing.  Insisting that he does, in fact, know is purely speculative.

I didn’t know he had done that. He never notified me on Twitter that he had done so. For others who might be interested, here Whipps Twitter account https://twitter.com/RazorsKiss I told him the comment section is open here. By all means comment. His tweets sound an awful lot like someone who had his hand caught in the cookie jar and now he is justifying their behavior. It’s OK, nobody thinks that he sat in front of a computer screen for hours and read an atheists blog. He read enough to pass judgment and to give his readers the impression that he thoroughly investigated my writing. He didn’t, end of story. I used “I found his email to be polite and I thought maybe we might be able to correspond back and forth about our time at the church. Silly me for thinking that an Evangelical/fundamentalist Christian can be a decent, thoughtful human being” in this post: http://brucegerencser.net/2014/07/bruce-narcissistic-bankrupt-heart/ and I used similar phrases in: http://brucegerencser.net/dear-evangelical/ Whipps then extrapolated from these his two points.

His tweets show he is dismissive of me and that I, according to him, have nothing substantive to say. That’s OK too. I don’t care what Whipps thinks about me. He is just a buzzing gnat on a warm summer day. This is typical of Calvinists who spend all their time with their nose stuck in a book. They take on an air of intellectual superiority. As I have often said, Calvinism is an intellectual’s *** *****. (almost always men) It “seems” logical and the books written about it are deep, complex, and wordy. I know this because I once had a library of over a thousand books, most of which had a Calvinistic bent. I read Van Til, Bahnsen, Rushdoony, the Puritans, and the Reformers, back when Joshua Whipps was a toddler. None of this matters to him because he has nothing but contempt for people like me. Granted, due to the health problems I have, my memory is not as sharp as it once was, so I may not be able to parse Turretin or Calvin’s finer points, but in the day I did my homework. I know how the books quickly lead a person to have an air of intellectual superiority. Sadly, Calvinism turns the Christian good news into a complex theological system that can really only be understood by Calvinistic clergy and book addicts like Whipps. In fact if you really understand it, that is proof that you don’t. :) Just get in a discussion with a Calvinist over the various lapsarian views and you will see what I mean.

Bruce can say whatever he wants.  He has no idea what I actually did – because I happen to know what I actually did – and that ain’t it, despite his confident assertions to the contrary.  I can tell what I did, I can tell you I did *not* read his entire site.  I had no reason to.  I took the links in his top navbar, and read those.  Those are, after all, the links he feels are important.  I read his “My Journey” posts, and all the links from there, the “Publican and a Heathen” series he linked in the first post of his I saw, and his “Dear Evangelical” post, with the varied links to be found on there.  I then moved to reading by particular search terms, in the hour or so before I stopped.  Having the full text is pretty handy, especially when you have voice command capability and the app does text searches either within feeds, or across every feed.  I think his responses were without substance because there was no substance to them. Breezily stating that you’ve “read the Puritans” or “read the Reformers” is a fairly large sign that you have no idea what the extent of the Puritan or Reformed works are, for instance.  Now, granted, he might just be saying (in a particularly unclear fashion) that he’s read from the Reformers, or the Puritans, or Van Til, etc.  That’s nice.  Plenty of people have.  My question is this.  For those who have read Van Til, for instance – how easy is he to grasp, without a prior grasp of Kant, Vos, Kuyper, Warfield, and Hodge, to name a few?

I found it fairly amusing that he complains about my supposed “air of intellectual superiority” right after calling me a buzzing gnat, and just prior to spending some time “proving” his own expertise. If 545 words per minute is so blazing a reading speed to him – exactly how did he read all of these books he claims to have owned while being engaged in all of the things he also claims to have been involved in during that same time frame?  I’m well aware of how fast I read compared to most.  I spend a good portion of every week speaking with younger fellas who are farther behind me on the trail of study.  I know how much there is to absorb, and to learn.    I also know how much time involvement like he claims to have had takes out of your day.  I’m not doubting that he was that involved – I’m wondering how in-depth he could have gone into all of these volumes with that sort of time investment elsewhere?   Maybe he managed it.  Even so, as I pointed out in the last posts, whatever it is he knows about the subject, it seems to fly right out of his head as soon as he begins to object.   I’m with Bruce: “When you state _______________, be prepared for someone to check out your statement.”  You used to own these books, correct?  Which books of Van Til did you own? Bahnsen?  Rushdoony?  Which Reformers? Which Puritans?  I notice the decided lack of mention of any systematic in your writing. Can you tell me why that is, Bruce?  For someone who was that “in” to Reformed theology, you seem to have some interesting ideas about what we actually teach.  I can quite simply say that not only can I not count on one hand, but I can’t think of a single instance where an atheist counter-apologist has accurately defined that to which they object to.  You are included in that tally, I’m afraid.

On Twitter, he opines:

@waffleater I caught him a lie about his supposed reading of my blog. He skimmed, looked at, but didn’t read.

No, Bruce, you just think you did.  Unfortunately, you are just being wildly speculative.  Of course, at first you said you didn’t think I was lying. Now you do.  Yeah.  You don’t know, and stating it as if it is indisputable just goes to show exactly what we say around here.  It’s easy to talk about “the facts.”  What is really in dispute is the meaning of the facts. You have taken a set of data, which you are in possession of. You have taken that data, assigned a certain relevance to it, and are going to defend that particular relevance to the hilt.  What I am saying is that your assignment is what is at fault.  You seem so prepared to see every “evangelical” or “fundamentalist” as a lying, conniving double-dealer that you give the impression that you’ll dismiss any other explanation out of hand.   You already know I’m a truck driver, Bruce.  Did that bring anything to mind about wildly variant IP addresses?  You even mentioned what I could have done – open up the tabs, and leave them up – but you immediately said “I doubt it.”  Why is that, Bruce?  I’ve given you the facts about my perusal of your site – but that’s just the problem.  As Van Til predicts, you’ve taken them, and chucked them over your shoulder because they didn’t fit your paradigm.  It can’t possibly be this way, because you don’t think it can be this way.  It’s incredibly obvious to me, and to our regular readers.  It is directly in line with the Biblical depiction of your behavior, as well.  It’s also firmly within what we have experienced from unbelievers in general.  Far from us being the ones who are engaged in “wishful thinking”, it is those who insist that what we believe cannot possibly be right who seem to engage in such behavior.  You say over and over again that I believe you are wrong about everything.  Who said that, Bruce? Not me. You might wish I was just making this up.  I’m not, Bruce.  I’m sure you have a series of oh-so-plausible reasons for me being wrong – again – but it is not true.  You can’t convince me I didn’t read your posts.  Why? Because I read your posts, Bruce. You might convince yourself that I’m just an arrogant busybody.  You seem to have done so already.  Unfortunately, you are making that judgment call on what I can only describe as a systematic inculcation of skepticism – of everything but that which agrees with your own opinions. It is an unreasoned, irrational response.  Imagine if I distrusted everything you said because you were an atheist.  Wouldn’t that be “bigotry”?  Unreasoned distrust based on belief?  I don’t disbelieve what you say because you’re an atheist.  I reject your objections because they are 1) Shallow – show no greater knowledge of doctrine than the garden variety unbeliever 2) Commonly made, thus commonly answered 3) Inaccurate where they impinge on Christian doctrine.  You do have more knowledge of doctrine than the garden variety unbeliever.  Since this is so, why do your objections show so little knowledge of them? Most of them read as if they came out of the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible!  Since you were a minister so long, don’t you have a general, ballpark idea of what the most common objections are, and what the best answers to them are?  If you don’t, then I fail to see what your ministerial experience grants you in that case, and if you do, why aren’t you dealing with them, instead of what you know to be the vapid responses of the people you yourself rejected as ignorant once upon a time? You know Christian doctrine, at least in a general sense.  I do wonder why you make little to no reference to systematic other than in a negative sense.  It’s all well and good to say that you were an expert theologian – why don’t you show us that expertise in your objections?  If you really were far superior to Dan Barker in experience and training, why don’t you demonstrate it? As it stands, there is practically no discernable difference once you start to object to Christianity. When you deal with doctrine, or with exegetical concerns, you misrepresent even the most basic doctrines – not in your simple explanations of them, but in your utter disregard for what they actually both say and mean, as soon as you start objecting to them!   Be consistent.  If you aren’t, your faithful atheist readers (who don’t seem to know any better, given their comments) might keep applauding – but you and I both know that applause is empty.  “Don’t leave your readers with the impression that you carefully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly investigated my writing and me as a person.”  I never claimed that – I claimed to have read the posts you suggested any objector read – but you seem to be claiming to know all sorts of things about me, what I do, and what you know – without the slightest means of knowing any of it to be true.  You just assume it.  So it must be true. Right, Bruce?  That’s what so many of your atheists friends think presuppositionalism is, isn’t it?  That’s wrong, of course, but it does seem to be what you’re doing here where I am concerned.  Even about the “facts” of our personal interaction – it isn’t as though there’s some common ground about which we both agree.  You have to see me through your colored glasses.  I at least know I’m wearing my own – and I have a lot of practice looking through those of others.  Look at things from my point of view, Bruce.  What does your stubborn, repeated insistence that I’m lying, even though I know very well that I’m not, look like, from over here?  Your claim that this is some sort of “contest” for your benefit, when the point I made was something I have stated publicly for years, and something I could demonstrate any day as a matter of course?  Of course I think it’s unreasoned and unreasonable.  I know exactly what occurred, while you are taking a limited data set, and insisting that is the entirety of the available data.  It is irrational to assume someone is lying for no better reason than prejudice.  There is a word for that – bigotry.  Acknowledge it, or not – I can’t make you see it.  I also won’t shy away from calling it what it is.

  1. [1]You can read the original of this comment on his site, if you wish – it’s just pure vulgarity that I elided, and unimportant to the content of his remarks.